Blackpool 3—Tottenham 1
A tale of a season’s two halves for Blackpool's first ride through the Premier League may have to go unpublished, at least for this week, as they beat Tottenham 3—1.
Blackpool made their case as survivors in the months of November and December by losing once in eight matches. The cold winter that forced the cancellation of two home fixtures in a half-built stadium couldn’t disrupt a team whose mantra is “Progress.” The cruelty, inflicted on most newcomers, finally caught up to Blackpool in January and February of the New Year, which witnessed an immediate dip in form.
The sudden reversal of fortune is difficult to characterize. All that changed was the calendar. Although the potential loss of Charlie Adam was a disruption, Blackpool kept the squad together through the hunting season of the transfer window.
The year 2010 was undoubtedly Blackpool’s year. In Chinese astrology, 2010 was the year of the Tiger. Composed of fire and wood, the Tiger burns brightly and strongly. The Tiger possesses boundless energy and is insanely competitive. Brave and courageous, he loves a fight and is always up for a challenge. He is a natural leader with farsighted strategies. The Tiger can be volatile, but always lands on his feet.
Unfortunately, the year 2011 is the year of the Rabbit. The Rabbit is diplomatic, seeks peace and a leisurely pace in life. He is considerate of others. The Rabbit is the Tiger’s tonic. In the Premier League, the Rabbit may not fare too well. An explanation for Blackpool’s slide as solid as any other.
Coming into the home match against a hot hot Tottenham side, the ninth league game of the new year, Blackpool had won only one—the rescheduled home game against Liverpool and lost seven (five by one goal), which included a five-match losing streak.
But the match turned out to be arguably the game of the round. Blackpool stayed true to an attacking strategy that had proved successful thus far and won supporters far outside Lancashire. It can be seen as bold, blind, or sensible to remain faithful to an approach deemed risky for a promoted team with a porous defense and doubly so against a freewheeling and confident Tottenham side that drools at the sight of open space.
But the formula nearly produced a perfect outcome. Only an own goal in stoppage time prevented Blackpool from recording their first clean sheet of the season and spared Tottenham the shame of the first not to score at Bloomfield Road. This would have come as a surprise if the match statistics were somehow presented beforehand. Tottenham recorded twenty-six goal attempts, although only five were on target. Regardless, these numbers qualify as an onslaught that Blackpool was able to withstand, if only due to the aid of Tottenham’s profligacy.
The highlight of the match was Blackpool’s second goal, a product of winter transfers. The experienced James Beattie and unknown Sergei Kornilenko (one must ask where he came from) connected through back heel and flawless cross to produce a goal of the season for DJ Campbell. To call the sequence Barcelona-like would be condescension. This was a dreamy goal, the signature of Blackpool. One can never underestimate the Tiger’s actions. It’s unfortunate that a single sequence of beauty isn’t enough to guarantee Blackpool a second season in the league, for the entertainment and sheer joy is a guaranteed reward for everyone else.